Project management is a vital component of many organizations. Its importance has increased in recent years as the time to market is being reduced and as the product life cycle shortens. To assist in combating these problems, project management techniques are being employed, especially in the area of new product and development. This unit examines both the people side and the methods side of project management.
A project is a series of related jobs that are directed to a major outcome over a significant period of time.
The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) divides a project into smaller and smaller components. These include (from largest to smallest) program, project, task, subtask, and work package.
Project managers in many cases cross functional lines to obtain the resources for their project, in some cases without formal authority. Therefore, a project manager must rely on his social skills, as well as his technical skills.
Variables that are needed for successful project teams can be categories as task-related, people-related, leadership, and organizational.
CPM and PERT are graphical techniques used for planning and control of projects. They focus on the longest time-consuming set of activities (path) in the project network.
The planning, directing and controlling of resources (people, equipment, material) to meet the technical, cost, and time constraints of the project.
Describe or define work breakdown structure, program, project, task, subtask, and work package?
The work breakdown structure specifies which organizational units are responsible for each activity required by the project. When the proposed work is a large endeavor, it is called a program. A project is a statement or proposal of something to be done. A task is a subdivision of a project. A subtask is a further subdivision of a project into more meaningful pieces. A work package is a group of activities, which are combined for purposes of budgetary control.
How does the role of project manager differ from that of a traditional functional manager?
A project manager's role differs in that they are typically working with a cross-functional team. This requires the project manager to understand the different functional areas and how they interrelate with each other. Additionally, the project manager will not have the technical expertise in all functional areas, where as a functional manager is generally an expert in their field. Many project managers must negotiate resources for their project as formal authority may not exist to acquire them. This requires that the project manager must be able to obtain cooperation from a variety of people. Moreover, the project is designed to end at some point in time. Thus, the project manager will be assigned to new activities or projects at the completion of the project.
What are some of the key characteristics of high performance work teams?
Characteristics of high performance work teams can be classified as task-related (ability to produce high quality results within budget and on time), people-related (good communications skills, mutual trust, etc.), leadership (ability to organize, facilitate group discussion, etc.), and organizational (policies, procedures, regulations, cultures, etc.).
What are some reasons project scheduling is not done well?
The uncertainties inherent in the activities comprising the network of any project make it necessary to update the schedule on a regular basis. Maintaining accurate time and cost estimates is often difficult and frustrating. Managing this evolving process requires a discipline that is not always available.
Which characteristics must a project have for critical path scheduling to be applicable? What types of projects have been subjected to critical path analysis?
Project characteristics necessary for critical path scheduling to be applicable are:
Well-defined jobs whose completion marks the end of the project.
The jobs or tasks are independent in that they may be started, stopped, and conducted separately within a give sequence.
The jobs or tasks are ordered in that they must follow each other in a given sequence.
An activity once started is allowed to continue without interruption until it is completed.
What are the underlying assumptions of minimum-cost scheduling? Are they equally realistic?
The underlying assumptions of minimum cost scheduling are that it costs money to expedite a project activity and it cost money to sustain or lengthen the completion time of the project.
While both assumptions are generally realistic, it often happens that there are little or no out-of-pocket costs associated with sustaining a project . Personnel are often shifted between projects, and in the short run there may be no incentive to compete a project in “normal time.”
“ Project control should always focus on the critical path.” Comment.
In many project situations, it is not the activities on the critical path which cause problems, but rather noncritical activities, which, for various reasons, become critical. In the context of PERT, it may turn out that the activities on the critical path have small variances associated with them and can be treated as near certain. At the same time, activities not on the critical path may have extremely large variances and, in fact, if not closely monitored, may delay the project. Thus, while project control must keep track of critical path activities, it may be more useful to focus on those activities which are not on the critical path but, for one reason or another, have a high degree of uncertainty associated with them.
Along these lines, some authors have suggested that the critical path approach should be replaced by a critical activity approach in which simulation is used to estimate which activities are likely to become sources of project delay. These activities rather than critical path would become the focus of managerial control.
Why would subcontractors for a government project want their activities on the critical path? Under what conditions would they try to avoid being on the critical path?
A subcontractor might want his activities on the critical path in situations where cost incentives are provided for early project completion. Since the critical path ultimately determines project length, it stands to reason that activities on the path would be the ones that would draw additional funds to expedite completion. A subcontractor might want his activities off the critical path because of some error on his part or because he doesn’t want to be bothered by the close monitoring of progress which often goes with critical path activities.
What is meant by "Crashing a project," and when do you do this?
Crashing a project refers to shortening the project completion time. This is normally done by expediting certain activities. When expediting an activity, additional costs are generally incurred. These are referred to as "crash costs." One reason to crash a project is to find the minimum time-cost trade-off model, which attempts to find the minimum -cost schedule.